I’m on a boat, free

This is number three. You’ve made it! 

I’m Free.

Half a dozen ships sailed out today. I was on none.

My suitcase is empty and stored in my closet. My toothbrush is standing at attention, in its holder. I do not have a frosty drink or a cigarette in either hand. My ship phone does not have a caller on the other end asking for a bottle of Blue Label and tofu hummus. As a matter of fact, I don’t have a ship phone. I just have a cell phone – good for making calls on land.

This is the second time I leave ships. The first time, I cried. Like a baby. But then again, I was a baby. This time, however, was different. I left without looking back. For fear of whiplash and awkward conversation.

The golf cart whisked us away from the gangway, (me, some big-shot vice president and none other than the CEO,) to the car that would eventually take us to the airport.

A few hours before my departure, I, wearing a cocktail dress and heels, belly-flopped into the pool and did a backspin on the ledge guests use to pretend they can walk on water. It’s the same joke, every cruise – especially if they purchased a bucket of Bud Light. While soaking wet, I picked up a yellow “Caution When Wet” sign and with it, walked around the entire ship dripping wet. All of this was captured on surveillance cameras and, for good measure, I had two friends use their cell phones to document my act of mayhem.

After making it safely from the pool to the crew bar, I decided to return to my room for a quick shower and wardrobe change. Once dry, I ended up taking shots of Jameson; catching french fries with my mouth from across a table; getting lifted on a chair, while three non-Jews sang Hava Nagila; and avoiding eye contact with Rebecca, the highly intoxicated and mentally unstable guest. There’s always a Rebecca on every cruise.

And then, that was it.

I woke up the next morning, packed my bags, tied up loose ends, said my good-byes, and drove away with the president. I did take some things with me (It’s only fair, they got to keep my bonus). Namely:

  • Being surprised by a seal in Ketchikan.
  • Running around Sorrento like we owned the place.
  • Getting caught by surveillance throwing an illegal cabin party.
  • The client’s face when I made shots appear as the song “Shots” played.
  • The teen idol I chased up four flights to keep her safe from the multitude of fans not running behind her .
  • Wearing a white uniform and stripes for he NoH8 campaign photo shoot in the middle of the ocean.
  • Getting lost in the hallway with the Captain.
  • Getting caught in a rumble that included: three ship security guards; two private security guards; one retired Coast Guard officer; one four-striped officer; and one very delusional woman.
  • Sailing with down-to-Earth bands, singers and celebrities that treated their fans well.
  • Making friends from all over the world.

Bon voyage ship life! You’ve been fun. I will racont your stories in oral and written form, but as for now, you and I must part ways. Like Marc Anthony and J.Lo’s split, ours is an amicable one. Even though in private, like Marc Anthony and J.Lo, we used to beat the shit out of each other and then attempt to make babies while chain-smoking menthol Camels.

I’m on a boat too

If you’ve just tuned in, this is the second of three entries dedicated to life on a cruise ship.

I love peeps. Both flesh and marshmallow flavor.

It’s true. There are certain perks to working in the hospitality industry, such as traveling to exotic destinations, a generous expense account and free laundry. However, those things were never the reasons that attracted me to the business. Or any type of “things,” for that matter. People were my perk. Not perky people. Real people. People from all over the world with interesting life experiences and eccentric names and/or application of eye make-up. People attracted me to the industry. Especially attractive people. Because it’s nice to have some around when you’re surrounded by a boat load of cellulite and dentures.

The following cast of characters are absolutely real, which is why I love them dearly. I’ve also changed their real names, because I love them dearly:

Crazy Ralph – He lures you in with different color eyes and the likeness of an award-winning actor, and then makes you swoon with his eccentric story-telling technique. He has a passion for hot-dog-dogs. So much so that he actively tattoos them all over his body. When not obsessing over dogs, he travels to Asia to do what he can for the less fortunate. He tried to wear pimp suits and pass them off as formal wear. He also got on the microphone one night and told guests to go fuck themselves.

Girly Joan – She looks twelve. Convinces you she’s twenty-three. And then you come to find out she’s 39. Her crazy laugh and chain-smoking should’ve given it away, but it’s no use, absolutely everyone falls for it.

Colonel Albert – He is the nicest man in the world. His piercing blue eyes mostly confuse lesbians, and right when they are ready to make out with him, he turns his face – the sign of a true gentleman. Need more proof? He held my hand in Italy and let me watch pornographic movies with his girlfriend.

Kathy Jack – This Debbie Downer opens every sentence with “Hey guys,” and is generally followed by, “why didn’t you invite me?” Poor thing, I know. Sometimes, to fit in, she’ll resort to drinking, but then gets too drunk and too wild for everyone’s taste. After a night of being rejected on the dance floor, she retreats to her cabin for weeks – until she starts the cycle again.

Larry King – His hair is fantastic. But he won’t let you touch it. He genuinely wants you have a good time, as, according to him, an angel loses their wings every time a guest complains. He solves everything by offering them ice cream, but, and really what is most endearing about him, is his accent, which makes it sound like he’s handing out ass cream.

Lucy Marine – One night at the lounge, I was celebrating a job well done by drunk dancing. She, pulled me off the dance floor to fix my hair. I have a picture of it – which is the only reason I remember. Almost a year later, she grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me off the dance floor again. This time, she was blocking cameras and screaming, “No photos!” Luckily, this scene was memorable enough not to require proof.

I’m on a boat

This is the first of three installments of a series dedicated to life on a cruise ship. 

 Holy Disco Balls!

When working on a ship, I hardly sleep. It’s a 24 hour job. My phone can ring at anytime and I have to be prepared to accommodate the request, whatever it may be. I’m usually up and about at 6:30 in the morning, as it’s the quietest time to walk the deck. Just the sound of the waves crashing against the bow and crackle of my cigarette with each inhale. It’s peaceful and humbling. My version of a morning prayer.

My routine was especially appropriate this week, as I was tasked with escorting a religious group.

About an hour after my first cigarette, I was walking across the public spaces on the seventh deck, when I heard a scream in the distance. I quickened my pace toward mid-ship, but when the single scream turned into a chorus of screams, cries and banging, I broke into a full sprint.

As I ran I prepared myself to see a dead body. Probably one of the church grandmas dropped out of her motorized scooter right in the middle of morning service. After all, given the average age and sodium intake, it’s not unlikely for guests to drop dead on a cruise. I turned the corner, with a mental check list of what I was going to do:

  1. Push through the crowd.
  2. Assess the body, check their pulse.
  3. Ask the calmest person to call the doctor’s extension.
  4. Ask the second calmest person to get a table-cloth from the dining room to cover the body.
  5. Collect the deceased’s personal items to ascertain her identity.

But, when I pushed through the crowd in the ship’s disco, which the group had turned into a make-shift chapel, I realized that the rest of my mental check list was no use. One woman was shaking while she screamed gibberish at the top of her lungs, while men and women fanned her. When I got closer a man stomped across the dance floor waving his arms and aggressively screaming, “Hallelujah!” The screams and hysteria made me feel nauseous. The room started to spin and goosebumps covered my entire body.

I caught the stares of two of my colleagues standing near the exit. Their eyes sympathetic, but their bodies frozen in the doorway. It was exactly like that scene in Jaws, when people on the shore just watch in horror. Somehow I managed to walk toward them without receiving any major contusions. Both of them grabbed me, one on each shoulder and we walked away from the madness like the survivors of a dinosaur attack.

I looked at them both in disbelief. I asked rhetorically, “What the fuck was that?”

“I think they said it was the Holy Spirit,” one of them offered.

“In the disco?” I asked sarcastically.

“I vomited there yesterday,” said the other.